Make MP3s, Not War

If you were be-ginning to think Sheryl Crow's no war guitar strap was the only peep of protest from today's pop stars, take heart: they are taking a stand--in cyberspace. R.E.M., Lenny Kravitz, the Beastie Boys and former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zach de la Rocha (didn't think he'd sit this out, did you?) have all put songs online. The downloads cost nothing. Trouble is, like so many things on the Web, that's what most of them are worth.

De la Rocha's "March of Death," a tag team with DJ Shadow, is a hookless mess, and the rapper's imagery is interchangeable with that of every song Rage ever recorded. Doesn't de la Rocha realize that he discredits his causes by treating them all the same? Lyrically, R.E.M.'s "The Final Straw" can be stirring--"Look me in the eye and tell me why"--but the band's acoustic strumming is so ponderous you won't listen to it twice. Only Kravitz seems to understand that protest is embedded in the very nature of rock and roll, so his "We Want Peace" goes light on polemics and heavy on guitar. The chorus--"We want peace/ Yes we want it/ And we want it fast"--is a far cry from Dylan. (And where, if anywhere, does he stand?) But the tune has the power to change hearts, which can be as effective as changing minds.

This flurry of creation is good to hear--or to hear about. But nobody's putting his career on the line (as opposed to online), except, inadvertently, the Dixie Chicks, whose airplay has taken a hit since Natalie Maines criticized President Bush last month. Cumulus Media has banned the group from its airwaves. (Meanwhile Clear Channel, the 1,200-station Micro-soft of radio, syndicates Glenn Beck, the man behind the jingoistic Rally for America events.) It would be interesting to see what happens if some big-name musician dared radio's conglomerates to play a pro-peace song. But maybe we're looking for nerve in all the wrong places.

Q&A: Courteney Cox

This fall, in addition to starring in the final season of "Friends"--really, truly, this is absolutely it, supposedly--Courteney Cox will executive-produce a reality show called "Mix It Up," a home-design program for WE: Women's Entertainment. NEWSWEEK's Marc Peyser thought he'd better talk to her while she still had time.

Can we really believe next year is the end of "Friends"?

You can really believe it. It's time.

Wasn't it time this year?

We all thought that when we came to work, but time goes fast and all of a sudden you're thinking, wow, I can't imagine it being over and we're not going to be together. It starts to feel weird. I'm sure we'll have that feeling next year, but we've all made a pact and said this is definitely it.

And you didn't have a pact last year?

We didn't talk about it. We just thought it was going to be over, but we didn't sit down and say, how do you feel, how do you feel? We just assumed it was going to be the last year. This time, we know it is.

How are you going to juggle all these shows?

I'm happier when I'm busy. Someday, hopefully, I'll be a mom, a producer--and I clearly want to act.

A mom?

Yeah, that's a definite.


I would not wait. I think people can do it all.

In "Mix It Up," people move in together and discover their styles clash. Do you and your husband [actor David Arquette] bicker about the house?

The idea does come from our relationship. David is a pack rat. I'm not so much a neatnick--oh, yes I am. As I'm talking to you, I'm straightening everything in the house.

Didn't you make him throw out a lot of stuff?

No, and that was a big mistake. He has a table of a woman on all fours with a piece of glass on her back. It's kind of like from "A Clockwork Orange." When we first moved in together, I loved him so much, I tried to make it the centerpiece of my living room. I wouldn't do that now.